As we age, our social activities reduce. This is a usual case for older people. Eventually, fun Friday nights with friends turn into cozy evenings at home watching your favorite series alone.
Meeting others and engaging in several conversations greatly benefit the brain as it stimulates it to process information and think of a response. But with decreased social activities for seniors, how should you keep the brain sharp?
We’ve listed five simple activities you can do with an elderly loved one to keep their brain in the best health. What’s more, they are fun to do, so your senior mom or dad will enjoy them.
5 Activities to Promote Brain Health
Common strategies to optimize brain health include regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and getting adequate sleep. Instead of strenuous physical exercise, such as jogging, walking, cycling, or running., below are five engaging activities that can boost brain functions.
Everyone needs social connections to thrive. But as we age, we often find ourselves spending significant time alone. You will notice this happening with senior relatives.
Loneliness and social isolation are prevalent problems among older adults that diminishes their quality of life. As social isolation increases dementia risk by as much as 50% and is also linked with higher rates of depression, it could pose a substantial health risk.
Don’t let your loved one withdraw from you or society. Simple things like small talks over breakfast can reestablish that connection and help combat isolation and loneliness.
Here are some more ideas on how to help your aging parent stay connected with the people around them:
Organize family and social events.
If your aging mom or dad shows signs of withdrawal, arrange at-home events that can be fun for them. For example, if a family member’s birthday is coming up, organize a small party and invite your senior parent’s friends or neighbors over to your home. A simple family dinner in the backyard or a comedy show rerun can encourage them to join in conversations.
Introduce them to local hobby clubs.
Everyone has a hobby, and if your loved one enjoys painting, they can participate in social clubs. Search online for a specific hobby group in your local community, such as a book or art club. You can also inquire from nearby senior centers if they offer social programs that your aging mom or dad would love to do.
Typically, video games would be last on the list of social activities for older people. Most think that they only suit children and teenagers. However, playing these games is an excellent cognitive boosting activity for seniors. It requires them to plan, think of a quick response, and memorize some things, such as which buttons to press.
Here are three interesting facts about video games improving brain health:
- One research has demonstrated a link between playing video games and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The study found that playing Super Mario 64 increases hippocampal gray matter in the brain of older people—maintaining gray matter within the hippocampus is crucial for healthy cognition.
- Another study discovered that seniors who played 3D video games had significantly improved cognitive ability.
- VR games are also practical tools to help prevent dementia, promote relaxation, and increase social connections. It also makes exercising more fun for seniors who need motivation.
So, if your senior parent hasn’t tried any video games yet, you can introduce them to some of your favorite games and have fun together. Remember to play video games in moderation.3. Listen to music.
Listening to good tracks is relaxing and fun, but that’s not its only benefit. Studies show that listening to music also improves memory function in older adults. Music therapy and other music techniques can positively affect cognition and behavior.
Talk to your senior relative and ask what type of music they love to listen to and who their favorite artists are. Thanks to apps like YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music, it’s convenient to search and listen to their favorite tracks.4. Learn a new language.
Learning a new language might sound intimidating, but it’s also fun. If your loved one has been interested in learning Japanese, Spanish, German, or Italian, a 30-minute language lesson per day revives the brain from a dormant state.
Several studies have also concluded that learning a new language can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by four years.
Some more studies have shown that learning a second language can increase gray matter density, which is the area of the brain associated with memory, learning, and intelligence.
Does your senior mom own a mobile phone or a tablet? Aside from using it for communication, these devices are invaluable tools to sharpen the brain. Older relatives can harness many brain functions, including memory, focus, problem-solving, and visual-spatial skills, by downloading a brain training app and learning how it functions. The best thing about these apps? They are accessible anywhere. Elevate, Lumosity, BrainHQ, and Peak are great apps to try.
What It Truly Takes to Improve Brain Health
There’s no magic formula to completely protect your loved one from Alzheimer’s and dementia, especially if the genetic risk is high. However, meaningful activities like socializing with friends, playing video games, listening to tracks, learning a new language, and training the brain may help reduce age-related brain concerns.
In general, the best brain health advice would be to take care of this delicate organ as early as now. If your aging mom or dad has only minor complaints about their health, make sure they eat wholesome foods, exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, and get enough sleep starting today. You might be tired of hearing these recommendations from your doctor, but they work.
More importantly, if they smoke or drink excessively, make sure to do something, so they quit these bad habits. If necessary, ask for help from a therapist.
Syed has years of experience dealing with people, understanding their needs, and helping them find solutions to their problems.
As a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA), Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP), Certified Montessori Dementia Care Professional (CMDCP), Syed is committed to working closely with Senior and their family knowing what is it like for individuals facing a challenging time, at times groping in dark trying to figure what is the appropriate next step or care level for their unique situation.
Syed and Senex Memory Advisors are fully committed to working closely with families in creating a personalized, step-by-step process memory care plan at zero cost.